Is a Social Security Number Required for Medical Insurance?
Just the Essentials...
- A Social Security number is not required to obtain health insurance as long as certain criteria are met.
- If you do have a valid Social Security number, you will be required to show it while applying for health insurance.
- Your health insurance application cannot legally be slowed down or denied because you do not have a Social Security number.
- If you are Undocumented, you will not be able to purchase health insurance coverage through the ACA Marketplace or through state insurance exchanges.
Do I Really Need a Social Security Number to Apply for Health Insurance?
Applying for health insurance without a valid Social Security number is something of a “gray” area. You technically do not have to have a Social Security number in order to apply for and enroll in a private health insurance plan. However, you must:
- Be “lawfully present” or documented
- Have applied for a Social Security number
- Meet certain requirements put in place by state and federal governments
If you are currently “undocumented,” then being able to enroll in a health insurance plan gets a little tougher. Today, we’re going to look a little deeper into why and when you may need to have a Social Security number on hand in order to purchase health insurance.
Are you in need of health insurance? If so, you have options. Enter your zip code into our free plan finder below to compare health insurance plans in your area.
A Social Security Number Technically Isn’t Required As Long as You’re Lawfully Present in the United States.
When the Individual Mandate was in place during the first years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you were required to have health insurance coverage for at least three months or longer in order to avoid paying a tax penalty. In order to prove that you were covered, your employer or insurance provider would have to provide you with IRS form 1095-B. You were required by law to report a Social Security number on this form.
If you didn’t have a valid Social Security number or other ETIN, you couldn’t report your health insurance information to the IRS. This could be harsh for lawfully present or documented immigrants as they were subject to the Individual Mandate and could face a penalty for not having or reporting qualified health insurance coverage. The mandate penalty has been eliminated, but this does not mean that you do not have to have some sort of taxpayer identification number in order to purchase health insurance.
As a “lawfully present”, or documented, citizen, you have more health insurance options available to you than an undocumented citizen would. In order to receive the options available to you, you technically do not need a social security number. You do, however, need some proof of documented immigrant status or taxpayer number.
I’m a Documented Citizen - What Health Insurance Options are Available to Me?
As a documented citizen, your options for coverage are heavily limited compared to those of naturalized U.S. citizens. For instance, you’re able to enroll in ACA Marketplace plans or “qualified health plans” (QHPs) provided in state exchanges, but you will not qualify for other federal insurance plans, such as Medicare. You are also eligible to apply for private health insurance from private insurance carriers.
Two federal options that are available to you or your children are Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s important to note that your access to these programs is somewhat restricted, as there is a 5+ year waiting period for adults. In some states, the 5+ year waiting period is waived for children and pregnant women.
What Kind of Information Will I Need for My Application?
You’ll need to be able to provide some form of proof that you’re a legal citizen of the United States of America. Some of the documents that you’ll need to have on hand include:
- A Social Security Number, if applicable
- Some form of Taxpayer Identification number
- Photo Identification
- Your “green card”
Even if you do have a Social Security number, you cannot be forced to show it if you do not choose to do so. If you do not have a Social Security number, but some other form of ID, your application cannot legally be halted or denied.
What Options are Available to Me if I’m an Undocumented Citizen?
Unfortunately, if you’re an undocumented citizen, it’s tougher for you to enroll in a health insurance plan than most. You have no federal coverage available to you, and you cannot enroll in a QHP through a state exchange. You can buy health insurance from a private provider, but that may come at a cost that you are unable to pay.
If you find yourself unable to purchase health insurance, you still have a variety of options available to you for quality healthcare. Community health centers and safety-net hospitals readily provide nonemergency care for undocumented citizens at little cost. You are also entitled to emergency care at a hospital or doctor’s office under federal law if you need it. No one can ever turn you away or bar you from receiving care because of your immigration status.
No Matter Your Situation, You Have Options.
If you’re an immigrant, you may have deep anxiety and fear about trying to purchase a health insurance plan for yourself or your family. You may feel as if you’ll be turned down, or that your application will end up tied in endless strands of red tape. Remember, regardless of your status as a U.S. citizen, you have options.
If you’re looking for a health insurance plan that’ll fit your needs, start comparing plans in your area today. Enter your zip code into our free plan finder below to discover health insurance plans available in your area.